Rain can't dampen spirits at local Labor Day celebration

On Monday, the 59th annual Bennetts Valley Labor Day celebration contended with a constant rain, but event planners and attendees made the best of it. Carl Smith of the Jay Township Fire Department, who has volunteered at the event for the last 40 years, said that while attendance was down Monday, Sunday saw record attendance. "I think it's the weather today that's keeping people away. Yesterday we sold 107 armbands, we've never sold that many before," Smith said.Members at the Wesleyan Church booth, which has been a fixture at the event for the last 40 years, said last year by that time of day they had sold out of chicken dinners, but had a little less than half of the 350 dinners left this year. The bingo game, hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 720, drew a large crowd all day long. "It's going great. We got all chapters helping out today, it's raining and we have the tent up," said VVA member Jim Steinbiser. While the general consensus amongst concessionaires, volunteers and event organizers was that the crowd was significantly smaller than usual, Sue Sidelinger remained optimistic. "Everyone's having a good time. The weather isn't bothering the kids at all. A lot of people come to see friends, it's a community event," Sidelinger said. The Great Lakes Judging Association of Pittsburgh was on hand to judge parade floats and participants. The Cheerleaders from St. Marys Area High School won first prize in the Drill Team, as well as in the Junior Drill Team category. Kidnetix of DuBois won first prize in the Majorette Corps category. Boy Scout Troop 99 won the prize for best float, followed by the Wesleyan Church of Weedville, with the VVA Chapter 720 coming in third. The festivities included performances by Nashville Connection and Elvis impersonator Scott Allegretto. The event was capped off with the queen coronation ceremony, in which Kaitlyn Rucinski was crowned Miss Bennetts Valley 2011.